Egypt expected to pass constitution; currency limits imposed

(Reuters) – Egypt is expected to announce on Tuesday that voters approved a new Islamist-backed constitution, and the government slapped limits on carrying cash abroad to save the economy from collapse after weeks of street violence and political disarray.

President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist elected this year after a 2011 revolution toppled long-serving autocrat Hosni Mubarak, has been accused by liberal, leftist and Christian opponents of ramming through a basic law mixing religion with politics.

Mursi says the charter has sufficient guarantees of minority rights, and that quickly enacting it will bring an end to the uncertainty and unrest plaguing Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster in the wave of revolts across the Middle East and North Africa.

The referendum result appears to be in little doubt, and opposition groups which marched for weeks against the new charter did not announce plans for any major demonstrations to mark the official announcement.

Unofficial tallies from Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood showed the charter was approved by a 64 percent majority. The electoral commission will announce the official result at 1700 GMT.

In a move aimed at preventing capital flight and a potential bank run, the government banned people from carrying more than $10,000 in foreign currency cash in or out of the country.

A growing sense of crisis has gripped Egypt’s polarized society, with a rush by Egyptians to take out savings from banks compounding worries about the future of its battered economy. On Monday, Standard and Poor’s cut Egypt’s long-term credit rating.

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